You’ve seen it all in the papers, but what I have seen and heard is a small but important part of the jigsaw.
In the poor villages a trafficker turns up. He/she tells them that if they send someone to the UK or Australia their financial problems could be answered. First give the traffickers any valuables you have and then they have a friend who will lend the villagers the rest of the money they need. They have no other information and they have heard, or think they have of that other families who have become much better off.They give everything and more, then off goes the selected young person who has no job or future in their village.
They wait and the tiniest amount of money arrives as the victim desperately tries to send something from where ever they washed up. The village struggles on to pay its debts, still hoping.
In the schools I have visited I ask heads what their pupils will do when they leave school. “They will go abroad to the UK or Australia,” is the response and the students believe this is where their future lies.
The drivers, shop workers or anyone else you meet are coming abroad to find a better future. I have talked to workers and struggled to get over to them that they could end up cold, without food, and friendless. They look at me, dewy eyed and say, “but it is my dream.”
I have talked to teachers and told them the future of their school children is where they are and a hush, cuts through the room. Without this dream what are they educating these children for. There is little but drudgery for them where they are and they are lovely intelligent children.
I still think we can educate teachers to tell their children and the children can educate the villagers. When the traffickers come calling they have some resistance. Trafficking is big, easy money. Why wouldn’t they do it? Confronting them could cost you more than money.
This is migrants and not refugees, they are a another tragic story.
May is the month when the Creative Writing cup is presented at the school where I worked as a volunteer teacher. I created the Creative Writing competition with associated book prizes, before leaving the school. Every year I get to read the entries and they never cease to amaze me.
They are written in English which is their second language. In the school of 2000 girls, English lessons start at age 4. If the girls don’t speak English well it is difficult for them to get a job or to marry. As an English person I was lucky to be valued by the school.
My day could be spent reading stories and singing with 4 year olds, teaching ‘A’ level English literature, or anything in between. My favourite times were spent supporting the multi-talented teachers as they worked to produce their concerts.
Now I look forward to reading this year’s writing competition entries. For the first three years, many entries featured the tsunami, an experience deeply etched in the minds of those who experienced it, especially some of the orphaned children who attend the school.
What was obvious was the discipline behind their thinking and their family structures. You can’t afford to make social mistakes, it can cost you and your family their future. In large classes, learning by rote has been the main teaching method.
On my last visit, I was teaching teachers to encourage creativity with language skills, and we discussed the pros and cons of this freedom.
We return to Sri Lanka in September where I will be working again and visiting my many friends there. I will also be taking the opportunity to push ahead with my second book ‘The Trinket Wife’. In the next few weeks, Marriage, A Journey and A Dog will be available again as an ebook and as a paperback. I didn’t realise publishing can take so long and be such hard work.
It’s exciting to have readers in America and to read their blogs and books written in America. We have had many long holidays in California driving from there across Arizona, visiting Las Vegas and being amazed by the Grand Canyon. We were delighted to drive the PCH ending up in San Francisco on July 4th. We stayed on the Little Venice Canals and rode bikes on Venice Beach. As I write the list, I think about how thrilling it was to stay there. Life isn’t long enough to go to all the wonderful places. I would love to see more of the US and the rest of the world, but I have been lucky and I guess you can’t see eveywhere. Sri Lanka takes up our travelling time, with my husbands research programme and my teaching there. These are the children at school last Christmas. The children at school are 80% Buddhist, and the rest are Hindu, Muslim and Christian. They all celebrate each others religious holidays.
Who knows if we will have the opportunity to return to US. We hope so. The book Marriage journey and A Dog is undergoing its own journey into print and I will let everyone know when that happens. I hope my updated book will reach readers in America. It is due to come out in April – all professionally published this time.